Written in January 2012.
In December 2011 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to combat intolerance, discrimination and violence on the grounds of religion or belief, declaring these actions a violation of human rights. This resolution was prepared by the 57- nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which had won majority approval in UN rights bodies in Geneva and at the UN General Assembly for annual resolutions on ‘combating defamation of religions’ since 1998.
Many people might think that sounds like a good resolution, but when you understand the true agenda of the OIC you realise it is not just about combating intolerance. In fact the OIC really wants measures to be put in place preventing ‘slander’ of Islam, which is defined by some as making statements a Muslim would dislike. On this basis it could become a means of stifling freedom of speech in the non-Muslim countries as well as in the countries of the OIC.
The OIC, which comprises 56 Muslim countries plus the Palestinians, claims to be the ‘collective voice of the Muslim world’ and bases its resolutions on Islamic law (Sharia). At the OIC’s Third Extraordinary Session, held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in December 2005, the organization adopted a programme of action, a key item of which was ‘the need to counter Islamophobia’ by seeking to have the UN ‘…adopt an international resolution to counter Islamophobia, and call upon all States to enact laws to counter it, including deterrent punishments.’
Persecution in Muslim countries.
At its meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan in June 2011, the 38th Session of the OIC denounced ‘media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-Member States [i.e., the West] regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC Member States under the slogan of religious freedom.’
One of the biggest stories not to be reported in our media is the persecution of Christians in Muslim lands. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania. In some countries governments and their agents have burned churches and imprisoned Christians. In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries. Examples are so numerous that we can only mention a few examples of this.
In northern Nigeria the Islamist radical group Boko Haram aims to establish Sharia (Islamic law) in Nigeria and has stated that it will kill all Christians in the country. As a result 95% of the Christians have left Yobe province in northern Nigeria. The Sudanese government has for decades tormented Christian minorities in the south. What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government’s sustained persecution of religious minorities. In Egypt since the fall of Mubarak the situation has worsened for Christians, with an increase in church burnings, rapes, mutilations, and murders. By the end of 2011 more than 200,000 Coptic Christians had fled their homes as a result of attacks. Thousands of Christians have fled Iraq as a result of violence directed specifically at them, reducing the number of Christians in the country to fewer than half a million from just over a million before 2003. Christians in Pakistan live in perpetual fear not only of Islamist terrorists but also of Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy laws. These laws are routinely used by criminals and intolerant Pakistani Muslims to bully religious minorities. Simply to declare belief in God as a unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is considered blasphemous, since it contradicts mainstream Muslim theological doctrines.
The Saudi government enforces an extreme and puritanical version of Islam, banning the public practice of all un-Islamic religions. Conversion to Christianity is punishable by death. The religious police often disrupt and raid private Christian meetings in the homes of expatriate Christians living there. In Iran dozens of Christians have been arrested and jailed for daring to worship outside of the officially sanctioned church system. Muslim converts to Christianity like Pastor Nadarkani face the death sentence for ‘apostasy from Islam.’
In the Ottoman Empire Jews and Christians had the role of ‘dhimmis’, so called protected peoples, who were permitted to maintain their communities, but had to submit to Islamic domination. They had to pay taxes to the Muslims for their ‘protection’ and were not permitted to criticise Islam or seek to bring the message of the Gospel to Muslims. As Islamic parties take control of more and more Muslim majority countries even this level of protection seems to be withdrawn.
Will the OIC accuse those who draw attention to the persecution of Christians in the Muslim world of ‘slander’ against Islam? Could any Western media or Christian organisation that accurately report persecution of Christians in Muslim countries be charged with ‘incitement to violence’ for saying something that Muslims dislike?
Defamation of Islam or Christianity?
Another objective was expressed in Paragraph 10 of this OIC resolution:
‘Expresses the need to pursue as a matter of priority, a common policy aimed at preventing defamation of Islam perpetrated under the pretext and justification of freedom of expression in particular through media and Internet.’
This means that any book, sermon, Internet article considered to contain a ‘defamation’ of Islam should be suppressed. So if you express an opinion that contradicts Muslim beliefs you should be condemned for ‘defaming Islam.’ This could mean not only a denial of freedom of speech, but also of freedom to preach the Gospel.
Muslims continually attack the Bible and the faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. They deny that He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins and rose again from the dead to give eternal life to all who call on His name. They do this with impunity both in Muslim majority countries and in the West, through pamphlets, books, Internet articles and sermons attacking Christianity.
So what happens if Christians mount a defence of the faith? Even more what happens if in the process they points out the errors in Islam? Some issues which may come up in such a discussion are these.
The Muslims have to explain the fact that the Bible and the Koran give accounts of the lives and sayings of the same people (Moses, David, Jesus etc) but disagree significantly in details given (especially concerning the person of the Lord Jesus). They also have to give reason why there is no mention of another prophet coming after Jesus and no prophecy of Mohammed in the Bible. To do this they say the Bible has been changed. This raises a question, ‘Was the Bible changed before Mohammed or after Mohammed?’
In answer to this we say that they could not have been changed after Mohammed. There are around 5,300 manuscripts of the whole or part of the Greek text of the New Testament pre-dating Mohammed still in existence, including the Codex Vaticanus (325- 350 AD) located in the Vatican library and the Codex Siniaticus (350 AD) located in the British Museum. There are also quotations in the works of early Christian writers which are ‘so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the New Testament documents’ (Josh McDowell ‘Evidence that demands a Verdict’).
So if the books were changed they had to be changed long before Mohammed. This also presents a major problem for Muslims. If the Koran really is the accurate record of events communicated by Allah to Mohammed via the Angel Gabriel, surely this vital piece of information would have been communicated to Mohammed – i.e. somewhere in the Koran it would be written that the Jews and the Christians have a false record of events, but the Koran is the true one. In fact there is nothing in the Koran saying this but there are verses saying the opposite, speaking highly of the Bible and advising Muslims to learn from Jews and Christians:
‘And if thou (Mohammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the scripture that was before thee’ (i.e. the Bible). Sura (chapter) 10.95. ‘O ye people of the book! Ye are not grounded on anything until ye observe the Taurat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospel) and that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord.’ Sura 5.68.
When one reads the Bible and the Koran side by side it is clear that both cannot be true since they contradict each other on vital issues concerning the faith. The Islamic Jesus is a created being: ’The similitude of Jesus before Allah is that of Adam: he created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’: and he was.’ Koran: Sura 3:59. In the Bible Jesus is revealed as an eternal being who said of himself, ‘Before Abraham was I am’ (John 8.58) and of whom it was prophesied in Micah 5.2 that his origins would be ‘from the days of eternity’. He is the creator not a created being: ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’. John 1:3.
The Islamic Jesus was never crucified and therefore did not rise from the dead: ‘And because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man)], and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not: But Allah raised him up unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All Powerful, All Wise’ [al- Nisaa’ 4:157-158].
This rips out the very heart of the message of the Gospel and contradicts everything that the New Testament teaches about Jesus. ‘Jesus said, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live’: John 11;25. ‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ (Messiah) died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. … And if Messiah is not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain’. I Corinthians 15:3-4,14.
The Islamic Jesus is not God in the flesh, in fact anyone who believes this will be thrown into hell. ‘Surely, disbelievers are those who said: ‘Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity).’ But there is no AIlah (god) but One AIlah. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them’. [al-Maa’idah 5:73]. Other verses in the Koran – Maryam 19.34-38 and 88-93 – speak of judgement coming on those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Yet the Bible clearly reveals Jesus as the Son of God in whose name we have eternal salvation and life: ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’. John 1;14 ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’. John 3:16
The Islamic Jesus is simply another prophet: ‘Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them’: Sura 2.136, 2.84. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is the name above all names: ‘Therefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on the earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2.9-11
Muslims claim that the Koran they have today is unchanged and has been preserved exactly as it was given to Mohammed. In his book ‘The Bible and the Koran’ Steven Masood shows how during the reign of Caliph Uthman (650-656) there were so many variant editions of the Koran that ‘pupils and teachers ended up killing each other.’ He then appointed a committee to collate the Koran. The new official compilation of the Koran was then sent to every Muslim province with orders ‘that all other Koranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies be burnt.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol 6. P 479). The Shia sect of Islam believes that one of the companions of Mohammed, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, compiled the real Koran and that it was different from the one compiled by Uthman. Many of them believe this is now with the 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi, who they say will reappear at the end of days. Then he will reveal Ali’s copy of the Koran. Steven Masood concludes on this subject: ‘The present Koran is not entirely the same as that from the time of Muhammad nor is it a fully fledged copy of the Uthmanic recension. The Koran was further revised by Ibn Mujahid (about 250 years after Uthman) and has undergone a process of further refinement, resulting in the canon we have today.’ Page 40.
This kind of information would be upsetting to a Muslim and should not be allowed to be disseminated according to the OIC. So should it now be suppressed?
Western responses to the OIC’s demands
In December 2011 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in Washington, DC to discuss how the United States can implement the OIC agenda at a meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process for Freedom of Religion.
The US Justice Department convened a meeting with Muslim Sharia advocates at George Washington University, chaired by its civil rights division chief, Tom Perez. Dwight C. Holton, the U.S. Attorney in Oregon who was also present, announced that, after speaking with Attorney General Eric Holder, he wanted ‘to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for. They will not be tolerated.’
Yet there are clearly verses in the Koran and the Hadith which advocate violence. For example: ‘When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.’ Sura 9:5. See also Sura 4.69, 8.6, 9.29. There is no shortage of Muslim preachers, especially in the Middle East, inciting violence saying such things as this: ‘Even the stone will say, A Jew is hiding behind me, come and cut off his head and we shall cut it off.’
Is it to become illegal to comment on this?
The EU has offered to host a meeting of the Istanbul Process later this year. The OIC wants to impose all-encompassing ‘blasphemy legislation’ on the European Union as a whole to criminalise ‘defamation of Islam.’ It regards Europe as being ‘more affected by the phenomenon of Islamophobia and hostility towards Islam.’ The OIC is especially angry over its inability to silence a growing number of democratically elected politicians in Europe who have voiced concerns over Islamic jihadi preachers, the refusal of Muslim immigrants to integrate into their host countries and the consequent establishment of parallel Islamic societies in many parts of Europe.
This in fact is an issue of concern to people across Europe. Across Europe Sharia courts are being set up, aiming to create a parallel Islamic legal system which challenges the state’s authority as enforcer of the civil law. A report in France, ‘Suburbs of the Republic’, says France is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society. The report shows how radical Muslim leaders are promoting the social marginalization of Muslim immigrants in order to create a parallel Muslim society in France that is ruled by Sharia law.
Muslim immigration into Spain is surging as the native population declines in numbers with low birth rate and young Spaniards fleeing the country to escape the 50% unemployment rate for young people. Radical mosques and TV channels are springing up in the country with funds pouring in from the Middle East. They are encouraging the Muslims to work for the reconquest of Spain by Islam. A Spanish man told CBN News, ‘The greatest threat for Spain, Catalonia, and Europe is Muslim immigration. We know they are coming here to conquer what, according to Muslims, used to belong to them. We have a moral duty, so that in the future they can say that at least there was someone, one party, that was not willing to surrender the West to Islamisation.’ A number of radical Muslim groups across Europe promote Salafism, a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim sect which seeks the destruction of Western democracy and its replacement with a Universal Islamic Caliphate, a worldwide Islamic theocracy regulated by Sharia law.
Those warning of the dangers of Islam are finding themselves in trouble in Europe, often being accused of racism by ‘politically correct’ authorities. In Austria, for example, an appellate court in December 2011 upheld the conviction of Elisabeth Sabaditsch- Wolff, a Viennese housewife, for ‘denigrating religious beliefs’ after she gave a series of seminars about the dangers of radical Islam. Similar cases have been reported in several European countries including Denmark, Finland, Holland, France and Italy.
The Vatican and Islam.
One person who once criticised Islam is the present Pope. On September 12th, 2006, he gave a speech at the German University of Regensburg in which he claimed that the God of the Muslims is unreasonable, and severely condemned jihad and the use of violence in the name of Koran. The reaction to the Pope’s speech by Muslims was one of fury with threats, riots, and violence. Churches were attacked in Muslim lands and Christians killed. The Pope himself received many death threats. Under pressure, and aiming to stop any further violence, the Pope apologised.
Since then the Pope has expressed ‘regrets’ about the Regensburg lecture. The Vatican’s new agenda seeks ‘to reach political accommodations with Islamic states and foreswear forceful public condemnation of Islamist and jihadist ideology.’ Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is known for having a pro-Islam position, was appointed by the Pope as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Recently the Vatican published a letter written by Tauran, addressed to his ‘dear Muslim friends’ asking for Islamic help to form an alliance against atheism. In 2008, with this end in mind, the Vatican promoted ‘Love of God, Love of Neighbour,’ a three- day forum with Islamic leaders. In May 2011, Bishop Mariano Crociata, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, announced that the Vatican is in favour of building new mosques in Europe. A month later the European Bishops met with European Muslims in Turin to proclaim the need for the ‘progressive enculturation of Islam in Europe.’
In 2009 Pope Benedict visited Bethlehem, where the Christian population has dropped from a majority to less than 20%, largely due to intimidation by Muslims. He delivered a message of solidarity to the 1.4 million Palestinians isolated in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. He said nothing about the suffering of Gaza’s 3,000 Christians who have experienced bombings, shootings and other Islamist attacks against Gaza Christian establishments, including the brutal murder of the only Bible-store owner of Gaza, and regular intimidation and persecution of Christians there. Instead he joined Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian leader pointed to a concrete separation barrier in Bethlehem and blamed that barrier, as well as Israeli ‘occupation,’ for the plight of Christians.
In a synod on the Middle East hosted by the Pope in 2011, nothing was said about Islamist persecution of Christians; indeed, every effort was made to show the Catholic Church’s sympathy to Muslim grievances, especially against ‘Zionism’ – a word evoked as a symbol of evil. Aside from Iraq, the only country singled out for criticism in the Middle East was Israel. Intimidation and violence have succeeded in turning away criticism not only of Islam, but of violence committed in the name of Islam against Christians.
One could see this as the Vatican surrendering to Islam and now working with Muslims to advance their agenda for Europe and the Middle East. That agenda is certainly for a world without Israel. It appears ultimately to be a world in which Christians are reduced again to the status of ‘dhimmis’. In all these things we see the advance of the false prophet bringing both the persecution of Christians and the infiltration of professing Christianity by this powerful spirit of antichrist.